Made It! Aaron, Colleen and Jim in St. Lucia at
19 November - Las Palmas, Gran
Canaria - Start of ARC
Aaron - The big day!
All hands up early scrambling to finish last minute jobs:
removing and stowing anchor, lashing jerry cans... actually
stowing everything and lashing everything. Gotta be well
prepared. Its been windy and rocky rolly out
there. Our friends on "Gigolo" broke their
boom on the way to the Cape Verdes yesterday in 30-40 knots of
wind with large seas..... The weather is looking a bit less
fierce on this end however.
several hours of scrambling we were "ready" - ish.
Ish cause the fridge is still not getting cold and our main
battery banks don't seem to be holding their charge very
well. Too bad. We are leaving. Just have to
eat all of the chicken and cheese in the first few days and
run the engine a lot to keep the batteries charged.
We've got a spare alternator and regulator on board so maybe I
can fix the charging problem.
we were all ready to pull away from the dock at around 1150
for a 1300 mass start. Boats had been leaving for about two hours and
were honking and being honked out of the harbor in great
fanfare. We had hoped to leave a bit earlier, but of
course were time optimists. OK, reach down to start the
engine and - you guessed it. NOTHING! ARRRGH!
Why now? Why me? Colleen had handed the video
camera to the boat next to us "Roxi" to capture the
historic moment of our imminent departure. In fact it looks
like he captured another classic Redwings moment.
Fortunately, after a three minute panic I was able to find
and fix a bad connection on the starter motor and we were soon
under way. Mega sigh of relief.
this is exciting. We jockeyed for position behind the
stream of yachts leaving the marina. Everyone honking
their horns, flying battle flags, and rocking out to their
tunes. As we passed the breakwater, which was lined with
spectators, a chant of "Redwings, Redwings"
sprang up from our personal support section: NARC (Non-ARC)
friends on Tango II, Gwondona, and Navarra. After tipping our hats to our fans and looking
very under control, we entered the outer harbor, hoisted the
main, rigged the reefing lines, and made for the start
line. Plenty of time. Yeah we planned it like
this. Genoa out, engine on, and along with 200 other cruising
boats headed for St. Lucia, we steamed across the
mile-long start line at full speed right at the gun, cut the engine, and were
start! We were right up there and soon had clear air and
were reaching off the Gran Canaria coast at 6 to 8 knots. Best
sailing we've had in a long time. 15-25 knots off the
port quarter and relatively smooth seas.
Great. Here is the plan. Head SSE for 7
miles till we are well clear of the wind turbulence around the
island, head due South for 20 miles to get fully clear of the
island's wind shadow, and then bang a right for the Americas
at about 27 deg 50 min North.
went according to plan. Worked Dad through all of the
various tricks of the trade best we could. Its so much
to absorb all at once but he seems to be getting it pretty
fast. Watch plan is this: four hours on, four hours on
"stand by" and four hours off. So basically,
everyone will have a back up if necessary at anytime and
hopefully, everyone can get at least four hours of uninterrupted
sleep twice per day.
course, as I passed my watch to Colleen at 1900 the wind
started to build from 20-25 to 25-30 and shipping traffic
increased. Never fails. I stayed up and helped
hand steer - whoopee! We hit 10 knots a couple of times
surfing downs waves! But with Dad's watch coming up and
me getting tired, and given all of the traffic (mast head
lights visible on all sides) we decided to shorten sail.
First we rolled up the genoa and were just about to reef the
main when the wind died, and shifted to the North North
West. Sails back out - Dad you're on your own.
November - 1200 GMT Position 26 deg 43 N, 17 deg 15 W
- The wind kept up at a solid 15 - 20 from the NNE and
when Dad woke me for my 0300 - 0700 watch, we were averaging a
controlled 6-7 knots. We've also been benefiting from a
0.5 to 1 knot current - probably the Canary Current advertised
on the chart, which runs N/S towards the Cape Verde
Islands. Hope we can stay in it as long as possible.
wind eased to 10-15 during the morning and with the boat
settled down a bit, we all took turns napping and getting
things in order. None of us had really slept much since
the start given the excitement and relatively strong winds.
spent the afternoon in the engine room fitting a new
alternator and checking for voltage drops on all of the engine
wiring. Fired up the engine and, slowly, slowly the
charge crept back into the batteries. Even so, it took
almost four hours to get them much above 14 volts on full
blast with the new alternator. I think they were really
stressed. Its a good thing I had Mom lug the spare
alternator to us when we were in Turkey two years ago with
similar problems. Thanks Mom. At that time, we had
actually re-conditioned the existing alternator before she
arrived so I never fitted the new one. This has seemed
to do the trick though so potential crisis number 294 averted.
luck on the fridge. The compressor runs incessantly and
there is a bit of coldness in the plate but not enough to keep
things more than slightly below room temperature. We
must have spent close to US$1,000 not fixing the damn thing
over the past two weeks! Arrgh. Oh well.
Looks like the Indian Ocean diet for Redwingers once
again: lentils, pasta, canned tomatoes, and fresh caught tuna
surprise. We have yet to ever do a major passage with a
fully functioning and stocked fridge. Such is life.
on info passed at the 1500 radio sked, we seem to be doing
reasonably well on the fleet. We are ahead of 75% of the
fleet, and almost all of the boats in our division best I can
tell. The only boat in our division that seems to be
really ahead of us is Eternity of Hamble, which we were tied
up next to in Las Palmas. She is about 20 miles
ahead. We owe her a bit of time as well.
Otherwise, we seem to be 15-30 miles out ahead of most of our
competition. Including Runaway who is in the division
above us (supposedly faster). We must have made good
tracks last night when it was windy and we were going for it
under full rig.
heated up some beef stew she made in Las Palmas and we had a
hearty dinner and hot showers. With the wind now down to
10 knots and the seas falling, we are all feeling a bit more
in control and civilized.
- A little post facto interjection here that Aaron missed
out. At the risk of being considered a drama
queen, I should try to give a genuine impression of the depths
of despair that the crew was put in during the afternoon of
this day. Still smarting over the realization that our fully
stocked fridge is not working and quickly rotting 20 days
worth of food, Jim and I sat in the cockpit for hours
clutching through our sea legs adjustment listening to Aaron
muttering over the engine down below. Every few minutes
there would be a "f****". Jim and I felt
pretty helpless not exactly sure what was wrong and how
serious it really was. Aaron was in such a foul mood we
didn't dare open our mouths. Finally he comes up to us
and says, well that's it guys, I can't get the engine started,
we are just going to have to change course and sail for the
Cape Verdes. Probably before we get there we will lose
power altogether and have to hand steer.
Redwings disaster, I just can't believe it. Were we kidding
ourselves to think we could pull this one together in time and
actually make it across the Atlantic with the start of the ARC
course after a few minutes he goes back down to give it
"another try". Before to long we hear her fire
up. Aaron successfully hotwired the engine.
Another near trauma averted....
- Yes I don't know exactly what the problem is.
Sometimes she starts, sometimes she does not. Seems like
a wiring issue but all relevant wires are getting 12
volts. I think the problem is there is a flukey
connection in the solenoid and the engine only fires up with
the key ignition when the batteries are well charged.
Must be some voltage drop at that point. But it is weird,
even when I hot wire the starter, sometimes I get only a
click, click, and then all of a sudden it will engage and
quickly start up as if there was plenty of power.....
The key at the moment seems to be keeping the batteries well
charged. Whenever the volts are over 12.2, I can always
start it with the key.
November - 25 deg 39 N, 19 deg 18 W, 24 Hr Run 127 nm
- Up for my 0300 after a solid 8 hour sleep. I'm
fully caught up now. Based on the watch schedule
I've set, it seems like I will be getting up at 0300, handing
off to Colleen around 0730, listening to the NARC sked through
0830, and then eat and read or tinker till 10 or so when its
nap time. Back up around 1200 for ARC radio checks,
read, fix stuff, play cards, ARC position checks from 1400
through 1530, take my evening watch till 1900, then lie down
for a read and a sleep. We are going to keep the whole
schedule based on GMT (as all ARC radio check times are based
on GMT) so as we go West, everyone will effectively have
different "real time" experiences as we are moving
through five or six time zones. I noticed this morning
that it did not get light till 0730 vs. 0700 in Las
Palmas. By the time we reach St. Lucia, it won't be
light until after 1200 GMT.
much to report today. Fixed Dad's toilet (replaced hose
- luckily just the salt water intake hose which has collapsed
on itself - what is it about the "guest head" and
it's insistence on making guests report embarrassing and unfavorable
news to the Captain?), got the oil pressure gauge going again,
and took a beating by Colleen in hearts.
wind fagged out for awhile at mid-day and our speed was down
to 3-4 knots. Normally we would motor, but in the ARC,
motoring incurs a time penalty with respect of the
"racing" results. We are doing relatively well
still and I am having fun competing. So, we have not
bothered to motor at all yet. Therefore, our daily runs
will be a bit below average. I figure it will only be
worth motoring if our sailing speed is less than 2 knots as we
basically get a 100% time penalty on time spent motoring so I
estimate we need to be able to motor at least three times (six
knots) our sailing speed to make it worth it. Fortunately,
the wind usually comes back so the time spent at 3-4 knots had
not been too painful and we have been averaging about 5 knots
in 10-15 knots of breeze all day.
November - 24 deg 14 N, 21 deg W, 02 24 Hr Run
- The heading given by the GPS for our way points is
weird. According to the GPS, the "magnetic"
course to St. Lucia is about 169 degrees or almost due
West. However, the actual course seems to be more like
154 based on the true North compass rose on the chart. I
fiddled with the GPS and switched it to show "true"
degrees, but it still seems to be off by about eight
degrees. Strange. Anyway, the good thing seems to
be that whatever it tells us to steer, if we steer it, we stay
on course for a given waypoint, even if the bearing given
seems to be off. Not sure if it has something to do with
the fact that our waypoint is 2,000 miles away, some
fundamental flaw in the programming of the GPS (probably do to
with magnetic variation) or a fundamental flaw with the
navigator (most likely). In the end, I've decided to
stick with the "magnetic" readings.
on that basis, we had to head 235 magnetic (220 true - i.e. pretty
far South on a relative basis) during the early hours of my
watch as the wind had shifted a bit more to the
North. My strategy is to keep the wing and wing
rig up and "go with the flow" keeping dead down
wind. The logic is that a) the further South we get the
more wind we should get and b) we don't have enough of an
angle or wind to make broad reaching down the rhumb line
economic. The reports on the 0745 NARC net indicate that
more wind will be found at 23 deg North and that it shifts to
the East. That is what we want and I'm going to head for
it trying to resist the temptation to point more towards St.
Lucy. We'll see how it works.
the sun rose the light revealed that we had acquired a rip in
the lower part of our genoa over night. Great. Our
150% genny is very full and is flapping and snapping a lot in
the swell. I think it must of collapsed in far enough to
catch the one of the lifeline stanchions and ripped. At
0830 Colleen and Dad helped me drop it and I spent three hours
on the foredeck sewing it up. It is probably one of the
ugliest repair jobs in the history of sailing, but hopefully
it will serve its function.
afternoon ARC sked revealed that we are still doing well on
the fleet. Out of 14 boats in our racing division that
reported positions (out of a total of 22) we are in 4th
place. We caught up a bit on Eternity, but Tinto II has
shot way ahead (75 miles!) and is already South and in the
trades. Spanish boat Canarias also reported (did not
hear her) and she is also about 75 miles ahead of us.
Still, can't complain. We must have lost about 4 miles
while I fixed the genoa and we are still right up there.
yogurt, yogurt. That is the word for the day.
With the fridge dead, we've got to try to consume all of the
food that can go bad. We each had three pretty tart
yogurts for breakfast, and Colleen made a cucumber and bell
pepper yogurt salad for dinner. More of the same for
tomorrow I guess. Can't start fishing till we clear the
another beating in the afternoon hearts game, and went to bed
at 1900. I've been up since 0300.
November - 22 deg 55 N, 23 deg 15 W, 24 Hr Run
- Just as I came on watch at 0300, we hit the trades with
the wind shifting 15 degrees to the East and building to 12-15
knots. The winds kicked in as advertised just above 23
degrees North. Time to rock and roll now! We were
able to bring the boat down to a course of 260-270 heading for
a waypoint at 15 North 40 West which will put us well south in
the trades and will be our final way point before heading
almost directly West to Saint Lucia.
bad news is the sail repair job I did on the jenny did not
last and it has ripped out again. But it seems like the
tear is localized to the foot of the sail and only one panel
and it is not spreading so we'll just live with it for
now. If the wind goes up above 25 we'll get just as much
speed out of our other 130% genoa anyway.
dinner consisted of quesodillas with guacamole (gotta use up
that cheese and those avocados) and of course yogurt.
Only about 6 more cups of yogurt to go! None have
winds and our speed build throughout the day and when I went
to bed, we were averaging over 7 knots.
November - 21 deg 52 N, 26 deg 00 W, 24 Hr Run
- Now we're sailing! Trade winds as advertised:
steady 15-25 knots from the ENE, 4-6 foot swells, blue skies
with puffy clouds... rock, roll, surf, surge.
Fantastic. We logged a good run of 175 miles or a 7 knot
average from noon to noon and the next 24 hour run should be
much better. We averaged close to 8 knots during the
the morning NARC radio net Runaway reported that they had been
in contact with an ARC boat Half and Half during the night on
VHF whose captain had been incapacitated and severely injured
when he was hit in the head by the boom. Half and Half
had put out a MAYDAY call but had no SSB. Runaway
coordinated via SSB with a US Ham and helped arrange for a
Spanish coast guard boat to help offer assistance.
Reminds you how one swing of the boom can ruin your whole day.
the note of gear failure, at about 1300 we heard a louder than
average "WHACK" from the genoa pole after coming off
a wave (each time the sail loses a bit of fullness and then
snaps full with a huge jerk putting a strain on the pole and
all lines holding it). "The downhaul ripped
out!" yelled Colleen and sure enough, the line that
holds the pole down was bouncing around slack with the
block jouncing up and down on it. I went forward and
noted that the stainless swivel fitting that the block had
attached to had failed. It was some consolation that the
plate had not ripped out of the deck. I grabbed a bunch
of heavy spare blocks from below used for the running rigging
on our spinnaker and jerry rigged a new system leading the
downhaul forward to a block shackled to the main bow deck
cleat and than back to a point amidships and then in to the
secondary winches. This is actually a better angle for
the downhaul with the pole so far aft (more forward and down
than straight down) and this rig will not break.
the afternoon we turned on the engine to charge the batteries
and make fresh water. After awhile, we all noticed a
huge vibration coming up from the cockpit. I tried different
engine rpm's, dug around in the cockpit locker for something
that had shifted and was vibrating, but could find
nothing. Finally I looked in the engine room and saw
that the water maker was convulsing with the pressure jumping
all over the place and the high-pressure hose vibrating like
crazy. Great. No more hot showers. We'll be
drinking piss by the time we reach St. Lucia (not really, we
have lots of spare emergency drinking water on board).
After tinkering with it for awhile I realized that even though
the primary pump was working fine, it was not getting adequate
water. There did not, however, seem to be any blockage
at the intake. Hmmmm. I hooked a new hose directly
from the intake to the primary pump (the existing hose went
very high in a loop to create an anti-siphon), and it
worked! I think what happened is that we were going so
fast the water was been sucked out of the intake much like a
self-bailer on an dinghy. With a short hose right to the
pump, the pump was able to get enough suction. I think
the same thing happened three years ago when we were in the
South China Sea on our way from Hong Kong and I spent hours
trying to get the thing going. We were averaging 8 knots
then as well. Now I know.
wind built through the day and just as it was getting dark
during Colleen's watch, it started gusting 30-35 and the seas
got very unruly. We dipped the boom in the water and I
decided to bring in the main a bit and furl the genoa.
At about the same time, the wind shifted right to the East so
we ended up traveling almost due West all night under main
alone. It was still bangy and rocky rolly and no one
slept. We'll see what tomorrow brings and decide on a
sail, and course, plan then.
November - 21 deg 23 N, 29 deg 15 W, 24 Hr Run
- The wind eased and during my 0300-0700 watch and I was
able to get the genoa back out. By mid day, the wind was
back to the NE at 20 knots and we were again stomping down the
"250 degrees true" rhumb line to Saint Lucia at
seven to eight knots.
in the "tropics" now which start at 23.5 deg
North. We can tell as its getting warmer and today we
found the first flying fish casualty on deck.
the sailing conditions are as good as one could ask for, today
the whole thing started to feel a bit stale for me. The
fresh water pump is for some reason not providing adequate
pressure for the system and facing the relatively small task
of trying to sort it seemed monumental. Its just rough
enough such that I really am not motivated to do much beyond
sailing the boat, reading, and sleeping. So far this is
a good passage, but for Colleen and I, this is really more of
a delivery trip to the Caribbean. In and of themselves,
long passages are rarely "fun", although they can be
good experiences. We still have two weeks to go.....
November - 20 deg 50 N, 31 deg 41 W, 24 Hr Run
is the first day that Jim and I seem to feel like even
contemplating the computer to input log entries. Up
until now adjusting to boat life has been more a priority, I
could really have cared less about writing in the log, and had
little to say, at least positive anyway. The first few
days out I felt like I was in a half comatose state. I
tried to blur from one necessary task to the next, and
minimize efforts of all sorts. Bathing is minimal,
shaving out the window before we left port. I stopped
wearing contact lenses. Too much of a hassle trying to get
them in and out, especially without a consistent water supply
to wash hands (now that the water pump has been so dicey).
Its been a major effort to think about trying to feed
ourselves up until now. Other than fending for ourselves
with breakfast (usually oatmeal or muslie), we've struggled to
consume one light meal a day. I'm seriously worried we'll have
skin hanging from our bones by the time we get to St.
Lucia. When I was buying eggs during our provisioning
run Jim said, not many eggs for me, I'm worried about my
cholesterol levels. I laughed to myself. Is he kidding?
He'll be screaming for calories before too long after he has
experienced the Redwings lentil diet.
took me until just this morning to really have the courage to
face what is living in the fridge (which has now been filled
with food but not working for over a week). There were
only two minor casualties, some unwrapped parmesan cheese and
the jamon Serrano (Spanish dried ham) slices. Miraculously, all else,
appears to still be fine. Its amazing what vacuum packing cheese at the butcher can do to extend their life. We
are left with about 8 individually vacuum wrapped cheeses, 4
"fresh" tortellini pastas (they "look" OK,
but I suspect when we open them they may be gross). Some
lardons packets, and a pack of hotdogs. Aaron
successfully consumed the last of the mandatory-to-eat yogurts
officially entered the tropics recently, and I am finally
feeling a bit of heat here. I'm ready for my every two
days shower now, but Aaron is still messing around with the
errant water pump. This is one of our lighter wind
days. Although we are a bit disappointed to not be
clocking in the 170+ mile days we have now become accustomed
to, I think we are all enjoying the relatively speaking
stability of the boat today. Perhaps that's why we have
even ventured into log contributions.
claim the first flying fish sighting. Having read about
them and hear Redwings accounts, it was a thrill to see the
real thing. (Actually, they glide on wing like
fins.) I temporarily claimed "King of Hearts"
status, but the King lost his clothes after a few days.
touch of sea-wooziness dampened the appetite for several days,
but seems to have departed.
My assignment 11-3 (AM and PM) GMT. The major
challenge has been adapting jet lag and the new sleeping
schedule to the watch needs and thereby keeping awake!
The first few were a challenge, especially with boats
relatively nearby and the constant tossing of the boat as we
headed downwind making sleep difficult. I
played the "only x hours/minutes left" game to keep
focused. I have apparently adapted after five days.
like zooming down the swells at night with phosphorescent foam
on both sides emitting a rhythmic "swoosh"
sound. No moon, just plunging into the black ahead
hoping that other craft had their running lights lit.
Add swerving to port or starboard as the wind hits 25 knots
and you feel like a rodeo rookie. (Yes, mom and Becky, I
did wear a harness secured to the boat.)
- Just to confirm, errant water pump totally stripped
today and all seals and valves replaced before I noticed a
bunch of junk clogging the back of the outlet valve - the
problem. Could have been fixed in 5 minutes the first
time if I knew what to look for. Now I do.
Everything working now - engine, water maker, battery charger,
water system... hummmm I'm going to have to invent a project
for tomorrow to get out of dish duty!
the agonizing decision to motor this afternoon. After
making an average of just 2.5 knots some 40 degrees off the
rhumb line for a few hours in the afternoon, we cranked her up
in gear for the first time and did 6 knots down the rhumb line
for the rest of the day under power. Wind has dropped to
2-5 knots from the North West of all places. Some storms
in the North Atlantic and a fagging Azores high which has
moved towards the Med are screwing up the trades.
have avoided using the motor as we are we receive a time
penalty for all motoring in the final results. The motoring
time is added to the total time and will then also be adjusted
upwards by a "motoring factor" to be determined at
the end of the race depending on conditions (more wind overall
higher relative penalty, less wind lower penalty). I
recon that it pays for us to motor anytime we are averaging
much below 2 knots as we can do an average of 6 knots under
power making up for even a maximum penalty of 200%.
November - 20 deg 02 N, 33 deg 30 W, 24 Hr Run
- My early morning watch (11pm-3am), under power, took
more than usual concentration. Clouds and a bit of mist
shrouded the horizon directly ahead, possibly cloaking lights
of boats in our path. In addition, we are approaching
the shipping lanes where the big guys don't necessarily notice
the little guys.
the wind picked up at mid morning at the end of Colleen's
watch and the engine was shut down. We had traveled about
120 miles noon-to-noon - 80 of them under power.
line keeping the mainsail orderly when it is lowered
("jack stays") chafed through, creating a hazard of
loose rope. Aaron ascended the mast and cut it
off. Luckily the seas were moderate and he knows what to
noticed some small tuna jumping nearby. But that doesn't
match the radio report from some of our fellow sailors: two
sperm whales sighted and a 50 lb. dorado caught!
day was characterized by discussion of when we would
reach the half-way mark. (Maybe tomorrow.) Much
reading of the St. Lucia tourism info indicates a
restlessness among the crew.
now staying lighter later as we move west and keep to our GMT
standard for watches and radio checks. Colleen prepared
a fine salad and quesodilla meal, which we ate in a
comfortable breeze and gentle sea.
one notable event, for me at least, was when the genoa stole
my glasses. I went up on first thing in the morning to
tighten up the boom preventer. With the swells, the
genoa was coming in and out of the boat. My head was
evidently situated right in the middle of the ripped hole (in
the sail - repair job ripped out but sail does not seem to be
getting worse) for
one of the swings in and my head got stuck in the rip.
With the power of the sail filled again with wind the sail
quickly flogged back out, leaving my head attached to my body
(luckily) by tearing my glasses from my head. As they
were my only glasses (normally I wear contacts, but too much
of a pain on the trip) I was very distressed to see my glasses
dangling in the ripped mess of the sail out over the
water. With the next flog inboard of the genoa, I tried
to grab my glasses, but the were unluckily, or I should say
luckily very securely wound up in the fray of knots.
and I struggled for a while to pull at them, and finally Jim
made it up with a knife. We still couldn't get a hold of
the genoa long enough to release them. We finally furled
her in and Jim rescued my glasses by cutting them
free with the knife.
November - 19 deg 34 N, 36 deg 15 W, 24 Hr Run
- Yesterday was surely our finest crossing days yet, and
perhaps one of Redwings' most pleasant passage days ever.
After I sniffed enough wind to shut off the engine and raise
the sails, we gently rolled along on a beam reach with 10-12
knots of breeze and very little swell due to the previous
evening's lack of wind. I thought, now this is sailing!
This is what it was originally advertised as. As Jim
mentioned I decided to break out the Caribbean literature and
finally make an effort to learn something about the part of
the world we are about to enter. I started getting
excited thinking about spending winters in the West Indies
over the next few years. I thought of our friends Jim
and Anna on Tango II that said they may set up home in the
sweet little island of Bequia and run charters for the next
few years. A review of Bequia sounded charming and all
of a sudden this crazy slog across the ocean might be good for
something after all.
think it was a bit too dangerous to start the reading material
on the landfall site though. I'm shocked to discover
that we are still not even half the bloody way there! I can't believe
after all these days at sea so far we will still have
to double the time we've already done before we even get
there. Aaron reports that half way point - 1,350 miles
into it, will probably be achieved about 6 hours from
now. I'm trying to get Jim excited for a "half way
dance" on the deck that Aaron can film to commemorate the
fortunate to receive an extra hour of light for my evening
watches now that we are moving more west. However, I
give it back by waking to darkness now for my morning
watch. We got a lovely sunrise this morning, and there
were two birds circling the boat for 15 minutes. It was mesmerizing. I tried to think about all the energy they
must burn sailing across an ocean like this.
the downer side, we are back to wing and wing, washing machine
roll sailing, having switched over grumpily at about 2am last
night. Its really still sailing that can't be complained
about, its just not as nice as yesterday.
- As Colleen indicated, the wind shifted from the North to
the North East during Dad's watch so we headed back to a
course just South of the rhumb line and poled out the genoa to
starboard. Its is bit less comfortable, but we can't
really complain as the seas are still pretty flat after two
days of relative calm.
wind built through the morning to 15-20 and shifted further to
the East allowing us to come up to the rhumb line course of
about 260 degrees making good progress towards our destination
at 6-7 knots.
1800 we hit the 1/2 way mark! For all of our other
"long passages", day 9 would be close to the end of
the trip. But at least it is, as they say, all down hill
November - 18 deg 47 N, 38 deg 49 W, 24 Hr Run
- Great passage conditions over the past 36 hours.
Rolling along at about six knots with 12-18 knots behind us
and fairly calm seas. Not super fast, but very
comfortable and still making good time.
me, one of the big break-ups of the day is the radio skeds.
At the end of my 0300 - 0700 watch, I listed to the NARC sked
until about 0830. I then take a nap till 1200. Get
up and listen to the ARC weather report at 1200, fiddle around
until 1330, and then listed to the "Group B" roll
call. We are in radio check in "Group C", but
some of the boats we are racing against are in group B so I
like to copy down their positions to see how we are doing on a
relative basis. Our group check in is at 1500 and Group
D checks in at 1630 - again, there are a few boats in Group D
in our racing division so I like to listen in.
boat is supposed to report their 1200 GMT lat and long as well
as current wind conditions and any hours motored / motoring
distance traveled during the past 24 hours. With the
forecasts and data points (wind conditions) of about 75
yachts, it is much easier to plot strategy on where to go to
keep up maximum speed / velocity made good to St. Lucia and
the best possible wind and weather conditions. Certainly
one of the benefits of doing the ARC.
between all of the roll calls, I spend time updating a spread
sheet I made with the relative positions of the 22 boats in
our racing class E and the boats' handicaps. This shows
us where we are in relation to the fleet. At present,
out of about 17 boats in our class that have reported in, I
estimate we are in 4th place. Looking roughly at the 50
boats in our radio reporting group, I'd say we are in the top
10%. I believe we are probably in the top 20% of the
fleet overall which is pretty good going.
meals for two days in a row (spaghetti last night and lentils
this evening). Both very good, but time for some fresh
fare now that we have cleaned out the remaining fresh
food. Gonna set the fishing lines out tomorrow.
record: no ship sightings in 10 days! We should now be in
the Cape Town to North America lanes but have not seen any
traffic. We have seen only two sails over the past week
November - 17 deg 44 N, 41 deg 12 W, 24 Hr Run
- Routine day. Wind is oscillating between NE and E
and ranging from 10 to 20 knots. As our rhumb line
course is WSW, we are having to jibe back and forth to keep a
favorable wind angle of 10-20 degrees off the windward
quarter. We have found that even when going dead down
wind wing on wing, the main will tend to block the jenny from
time to time as the boat swings back and forth with the waves
resulting in frequent collapses of the sail. It is
therefore both quieter and faster to keep the apparent wind a
bit forward. Jibing takes a bit of time as I need to
move the whole jury rigged downhaul system from port to starboard
each time. Anyway, we are making good time and
seem to be holding our position in the fleet.
set out the fishing lines in the afternoon. Got a hit on
my favorite green and gold squid. I made up a few more
of these and will set out two lines rigged with them tomorrow.
December - 17 deg 26 N, 44 deg 09 W, 24 Hr Run
- At noon, only 993 miles to go! We are really
getting there. We'll be more than 2/3 of the way by
mid-day tomorrow. We were on track for a 180 mile day as
of 0600, but then the wind dropped in the morning to 10-15 so
we'll have to take 169 - our second best run of the trip. On
our other passages, 170 was an average run. This trip is
a bit slower because we never motor unless the speed is less
than two knots (usually I crank it up at four or less) and as
the wind and currents are not really that strong.
However, the benefit is that this is a very dry and relatively
set the lines out at dawn with two new green/gold squid
rigs. The fish were very accommodating. Soon after
I got up from my morning nap and listened to the 1200 ARC
weather, I strolled back to the poop deck to check the
lines. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the fishing
rod line jerk. No fish on, but it looked like a
hit. Better check the lure. Just as I picked up
the rod and started to reel in the bait, WHEEEEEE WHAM! I saw
a yellow and green streak tearing through the water. As
the fish hit, I struck. One on. Two seconds later,
the heavy fixed line (no rod and reel) was hit. Two
on. Both good sized dorado jumping and splashing and
putting up a good fight. The one on the rod and reel had
already taken out a lot of line and as we were traveling at 7
knots, it was going to be tough to get him in. I clamped
down on the drag and let him hang out while I moved to land
the second fish.
thick 120 pound line was no match for the fish and I was able
to get her surfing and hand over hand bring her up to the
transom fairly quickly. After a few swipes, I got the
gaff in behind the gills and hefted her up over the pushpit.
Flop. Nice fish. At least four feet long and
pretty hefty. Say 30-40 pounds? Not sure but its
all on video.
one fish will be more than we can eat in two days and give
that we don't have refrigeration, killing both would have
been a waste. As the one on the rod and reel line was so
far out, fighting him in would have probably mortally
exhausted him and me, so I just cut the line. He'll be
able to shake the lure soon. One
hour later, his mate was filleted and packed away for
eating. Sad, but such is life.
I was cooking our catch later in the afternoon, Colleen
spotted a container ship just eight miles away. The
first ship we have seen in 13 days. A new record for
us. We are in the advertised shipping lane for vessels traveling
from the South Atlantic to the Panama Canal and or
the US so we should start seeing more traffic. In fact,
another ship passed us by several hours later.
fish came out well (grilled with a white wine, garlic, ginger
and honey sauce). I hope the crew is prepared for
another fish meal tomorrow.
December - 16 deg 42 N, 46 deg 51 W, 24 Hr Run
- I was exceptionally sleepy when Aaron woke me for my
morning watch. Its not helping that there are still two
more hours of darkness into my watch with the time
change. We had been thrashing back and forth all night,
with wild swings and collapsing genoas banging. My sleep
was pretty poor. Aaron didn't give me much time to
transition from sleep state to "go hand steer, I want to
check in with the radio sked" (we have to hand steer when
we transmit on the SSB radio or else the autopilot goes
mad). In my sleepy state I got the wind indicator
backwards, and when I should have been heading down, I was
heading up. What a disaster. In my confusion, I back winded
the mainsail, which once done it was almost
impossible to turn the boat back down. Thank God the
boom preventer was on, or else an accidental jibe could have
been very ugly. Aaron had to halt his transmission, to
run up and help me get the engine on to steer down. We
had to release the shaft lock to do this, so the whole thing
took rather a while. I was soon better awake.
thing you know a squall hits out of no where. I had
asked Aaron to pop on the radar when he went back down to
listen to the radio. There were two lights to port, and
I wanted to confirm they were only sailboats and not on a
collision course. Aaron hesitantly asked from below,
"Do you see a very dark cloud to the left of
us?" I did. The squall was so dense it showed
up as a huge black spot on radar. Within moments the
wind was gusting from a cool 10-20 up to 33. A wild
ride. We got light rain too. There was really no
time to reduce sail area, just hang on and hope nothing gets
only real casualty was the base of the main sail. The
outhaul had popped out and too much pressure on one of the
cars ripped the sail. A modification was easily jury
(switching sails from one side of the boat to the other with
the wind behind) has been a daily occurrence to insure we get
the best possible wind angle toward St. Lucia. It has
become, for me finally, a routine operation, but not without
its challenges. Among other things, it involves bringing
in the genoa (head sail), disconnecting the spinnaker pole
that holds it out to the side, moving the pole to the opposite
side and reconnecting it, then opening the sail on the new
during what appeared to be a routine jibe, the genoa lines got
fouled while the pole was swinging free. As Aaron turned
briefly to deal with the lines, I saw the pole swinging back
toward him. I yelled but he did not hear. Luckily
he received the blow in the lower back of the head, not
directly in the face. Had he heard my yell, he may have
turned right into the oncoming pole! Though
temporarily stunned, he was none the worse for it all,
created a stew from the remains of the Dorado and attempted to
bake a foccacia (bread). Unfortunately, we were without
yeast. At the grocery we (Colleen and I) specifically
asked the fluent-English speaking store manager for
yeast. When she directed me to "lavadura," I
noticed it was in the cake section. I emphasized that we
wanted to make bread, not cake, but she claimed this was
yeast. Colleen confirmed today that, according to her
Spanish-English dictionary, lavadura means yeast. Well,
it must also mean "baking soda," since that's what
it seemed to be.
Aaron selected beer as the yeast substitute. The
"bread" was a bit dense and did not allow full
appreciation of his gourmet talents this time.
the evening, I was struck by the vastness of the ocean and the
resources of our planet. I am reading Green Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson, in which the dry, rocky, barren,
crater marked, canyon laced surface differs so much from what
I have seen for the past 15 days.
night, we had very favorable winds leading us right down the
line to our destination - no need to jibe!
December - 16 deg 14 N, 49 deg 45 W, 24 Hr Run
- Nothin doin today. We made a timely jibe yesterday
before sundown as the wind shifted East and was forecast to
stay that way, and did not need to do anything more during the
day other than "tweak" the autopilot up or down 5-10
degrees to stay on course and or obtain a more favorable wind
angle. St. Lucia is firmly in our sights now: only 600
miles to go which is only about four days out from here.
I think we will get in sometime during the daylight hours of
our 18th day (i.e. December 7th).
is helping me pass the time. I head down to my bunk
around 1900 after the evening hearts game and a shower, read
for two hours, sleep for six hours, get up for my 0300, hand
over to Colleen at 0730, take a nap from 0830 to 1200 after
the morning radio sked, and then its time for the afternoon
radio skeds to start and before I know it, my afternoon 1500
is starting and its hearts time again.
broken, nothing breaking, no traffic, no trauma, no drama..... just
putting in 160 to 170 miles a day with 15-20 knots behind us
as well as 1/2 a knot of current. The days are blurring
and starting to resemble Tom Hank's "Groundhog
December - 15 deg 28 N, 52 deg 28 W, 24 Hr Run
- The auspicious event of the day was breaking out the
bimini that covers the cockpit. I had been threatening
it in the past, but Aaron and Jim seemed to have the mild
impression that it would be an enormous hassle and not worth
it. Jim kept saying, I'm alright, I found a patch of
shade, I don't need the bimini covering from the sun. I
came out to the cockpit around 1 pm in the blazing sun.
Jim had gotten so desperate for shade that he was on the
foredeck, under the spinnaker pole sitting in a small sliver
of shade. I joined him and we both had apples. I
thought this is crazy. For a sliver of shade we are
positioning ourselves right under the pole. If it were to
drop, it would smash our heads. I went below and Jim
moved back to the cockpit. When I came out again, he was
crouched in the corner of the cockpit with a trickle of
shade. His legs couldn't fit in the shade and he had his
raincoat over them to protect from the sun. No, problem,
I'm happy. I said this is ridiculous, Aaron, pass me the
bimini. Within moments, our world as we know it (the
10x10 cockpit) was transformed into a splendid shady retreat.
half hour Aaron even ditched his vampish ways and entered the
cockpit during daylight hours to just relax and read a book.
hard to identify anything else noteworthy that happened
today. I asked Jim and Aaron if they can remember
anything, but none of us can imagine what we did all day that
could possibly be worth mentioning and is at all vaguely
different to what we've been doing everyday for the last 16 on
this vessel. Here's what we came up with; there were no
other boats seen all day and the new CD player ate a CD and
won't spit it out.
I made risotto, which shows a
lot for how I've acclimatized to boat life. The dish
requires constant stirring over a hot, and in this case
constantly moving, stove. The Dutch cheese I used for it
in place of parmesan was fine, even after 16 days without refrigeration. Pretty remarkable.
our "new" hang out under the bimini, there was a lot
more enthusiasm for the hearts game. We had missed it
the last two days as Aaron grumped out of it. Aaron made
a bit of a mess with his snacks during the game. He had
cookies everywhere over the table, and he spilt and entire cup
of tea all over the cockpit. The game was very
close. Jim successfully shot the moon in the last round
which altered the final tally of scores significantly.
went off to bed at 7pm GMT, the start of my watch. Its so
light though, its probably only like 4pm at that time in this
part of the world. I wasn't sure if I should wake him up
for a jibe before sundown, but after much back and forth Jim
and I decided it wasn't necessary at the moment. When
night finally fell, it was a lovely evening. We now have
almost half a moon directly above, and a brighter
December - 17 deg 44 N, 41 deg 12 W, 24 Hr Run
- We had potato curry. Aaron bashed thumb trying to
repair the shaft lock. I shaved my legs. We spent an hour
discussing if we finished in 17 days and 20 hours if one could
honestly say we crossed in 17 days or 18 days. Really
pathetic conversation that went on to long and indicative of
our states of mind. Its over cast. It rained a
bit. Lull in the middle of the night Jim and I woke up
and said throw that engine on. Aaron said nothing to
gain if we put motor on with a long explanation of miles
faster versus handicap applied. I replied SLEEP is to be gained
if you put the motor on. Aaron replied that that wasn't
a consideration since he wasn't trying to sleep because he was
had a rather intense hearts session again. I at the last
minute decided to shoot the moon, which turned into a shoot
the universe, which altered final scores significantly.
Aaron went to bed early, Jim stayed up and watched the sun go
down with me on my watch. We had a half moon mid-sky,
which lit up the clear night.
shitty sleeping all around I think. Lots of waking up,
or I should say some sleeping between waking moments due to
wild swings back and forth and violently slapping genoas.
- Colleen neglected to mention that while her shoot of the
universe in hearts did alter the scores, I was still the
you believe it? We have seen no boats, ARC or otherwise
for what, close to a week? We are getting closer and
closer to St. Lucia and boats should be funneling
together. I'm sure we'll at least see some lights
light air and not jibing before sunset to get closer to the
making course killed our performance today and we slipped back
in the fleet a few places. I was hoping the light air
would influence others to motor unnecessarily, but apparently,
we were one of the few boats to experience it. Eternity
is now slightly ahead of us and to the South of us for the
first time. I'd really like to beat them.
December - 14 deg 53 N, 57 deg 55 W, 24 Hr Run
- Waking up for my morning watch is now a bigger
work out than my "night" watch. The sun
doesn't rise until 10 am GMT. This morning we had a
lovely sunrise (slow though it was in coming). It is a
major benefit of this watch to be able to experience it alone
without any distraction. I was thinking about how I was
waiting for the sun to rise, and the nature of it getting
light in the sky before the sun actually peeks over the
horizon, when it struck me how backwards my perception
is. Its a good metaphor on the illusion of reality; we
perceive the sun rising to us. We are actually turning
to it! With a never ending swirl of ocean for 360%
degrees all around me I imagined floating on this grand globe
that has just made its turn for the 24 hour cycle towards the
was up shortly thereafter and I passed the watch on to
him. He didn't look like he got any better rest during
the night than I did. I tried to go down for my morning
nap, which is pretty hard after you've just been finally
jolted away with the dawn of light and day. I only slept
for an hour and a half and was woken by Aaron's chatter and
the radio. Someone gave the coordinates for what they
spotted as a large metal tank of fuel floating in the
water. We are due to cross it tonight. Another
crazy thing to worry about. I got up and made salsa and
cheese quesodillas for everyone. Messy to eat, but
satisfying. I finally finished my book, a trilogy by
Robertson Davies, the Deptford Trilogy. Then for the
first time since leaving port, I broke out the sun showers I
had filled in Las Palmas and left it to heat up in the
sun. I enjoyed a nice hot shower!
- Dad won 16-hand final Hearts Championship tourney by a
decent margin. I was second. I think it was
fitting as I believe that overall throughout the trip, which
will be over in 24 hours or less, he won the majority of the
of a faster and more direct run today and we gained back some
of our lost miles, although we are still just a fraction
behind Eternity for 5th place or so in our division. The
top three boats, Tinto II, Carib, and Canarias have already
finished and don't owe us enough time for us to make it
up. It should be a close battle however for the next 3-6
places and we are in the middle of it. We are jibing a
lot more now to keep on the rhumb line.
no traffic at all. Very strange. We are a bit
North of the fleet, but I was sure that as the sun set we
would at least see some lights of the boats as all of our
rhumb lines converge. I also would have expected
commercial traffic heading towards the Panama Canal.
Only two ships in 17 days. Amazing.
weird thing that Dad and I have both seen once at night: an
upwards streaking white light that pops in a little burst of
white flame - looks exactly like a white flare. The
first time Dad saw it, I called other boats in the area on the
VHF but no one had shot off a flare. The boat Green
Light said they saw the same thing and did not know what it
December - Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia, Hr Run
- Land Ho! Wait, I anticipate.
the early morning hours, we were moving at nearly 8 knots -
good speed but somewhat off the preferred course. At the
beginning of Aaron's watch (3 AM), he decided to jibe onto a
more direct course, an operation undertaken in bright
moonlight and only with the required minimum of foul language
and fouled lines.
heard a warning that a large fuel tank was reported afloat and
adrift in our path many miles ahead. I tried to be on
the lookout during my watch (11 PM-3 AM), but it was
impossible in the dark, moon or no moon. The odds were
long against a collision in the big space in which we were
the early morning, we all shared in the "Land Ho!"
experience. After 17-plus days and 2,700 miles, Colleen
spotted the hills of St. Lucia through the night vision glass
just before dawn. At about 10 AM GMT I claimed I
could seen the dim outline of those hills, but wasn't
sure. In a few minutes, Aaron confirmed my suspicions
with the Captain's authoritative declaration.
the next several hours we watched the gray peaks, then the
green hills, then the white buildings come into sharp
relief. Aaron gave "Otto" pilot his walking
papers, and took over at the wheel to maximize the speed of
our final approach. With skillful anticipation of wind
and wave movements, he hiked our speed by nearly a
friendly competitor sailboat appeared far to our port, but on
a more advantageous bearing for rounding the island to the
finish line. The Captain's fierce fighting juices were
running strong - to put it mildly. Sail trimming was a
constant effort, cutting closer to the key Pigeon Island
landmark than others dared.
we ultimately lost the morning duel with the other boat
(long-term, positions are based on time and handicaps), we
sailed to the finish area at full throttle. The crew was
simultaneously trying to obey the Captain's orders,
communicate by radio with the committee boat anchoring the
finish line, and attempting to even identify which of several
boats it was!
we did, we had to turn to starboard to make the required pass
by the boat. By now the wind would barely let us get
high enough, and we were baring down on the committee boat on
a collision course. Finally, we made the position,
turned and headed for the finish line to port, successfully
avoiding a set of fishing nets and, again, coaxing the boat
(and haranguing the crew) to make the last
we heard the horn from the committee boat! Done!
had been discussing the final arrival time in St. Lucy's,
hoping it would occur before 1 PM so we would make it in less
than 18 full days. Actual time was 1:21 PM GMT or 10:21
AM local time.
final drama of the day and trip had to be played out at the
latest possible time. We were encouraged to moor in a
slip between two other boats, but in a restricted area
difficult to maneuver even under power. After a few
tense minutes, Captain A put us in safely, with the help of
awaiting ARC staff.
to the fuel tank warning. After mooring, the first thing
Colleen noticed was a nice black tar-like swoosh just above
the water line a the bow. One theory is that we his a
fuel condensed tar ball that exploded and splayed gunk on the
bow. Better than a steel tank!
- After finally tying up, the local St. Lucia tourist
dudes came by with rum punches and a fresh fruit basket for
us. Reggae vibes boomed in from the main reception
area. Welcome to the Caribbean!
before the lines were secure, "free lance" boat
workers swarmed the boat offering cleaning, varnishing, and laundry
services. One guy with a boat that looked like a
tropical garden was flogging fruits and veggies.
"Not now guys, we are tired and busy". I
was very overwhelmed by the somewhat stressful finish and
docking conditions (whose idea was it to set a windward finish
after sailing 2,700 miles downwind? Hardening up and
beating into 25 knot trade winds for the last 1/4 mile is
insane), and just wanted my space.
and immigration were there at the port and after filling out
the relevant forms in triplicate, we were in. Now we can
relax a bit. Not yet! Spent the afternoon getting
the laundry hauled away, boat reasonably tidied, making calls
and figuring out about flights, and generally getting
organized. I found an electrical fixit shop and they
sent over a fridge guy named "Prudent".
"You got too much gaz in de fridge mon".
Simply let out 50% of the gas and when we went to bed (at 8:00
pm!) it was still running and icing down nicely! May miracles
of gossiping with the neighbors. We seem to be in the
middle of the German contingent. Very nice folks.
Fun to compare notes and swap tales - though as the conditions
were so good no one seems to have any really good stories or
have experienced any major dramas. Boats keep coming in
1-2-3 per hour.
seem to have done about as expected. Tinto II, Canarias,
Carib, and Klenkas all finished ahead of us in our division
(of 26 boats) and beat us on corrected time. The battle
for 5th place will be tight between us and Eternity.
They should finish sometime tomorrow. We owe them
about 17 hours as we motored 13.5 hours more then them and we
owe them a little time as we are a slightly faster boat as
well. Should be close.
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